April 16th, 2007

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Sixties Novels, Part 4

4. DANDO SHAFT!, Don Calhoun, Stein & Day, 1965.

This is a Sixties novel I actually read during the Sixties themselves. Not when it was first published, but in a Ballantine paperback reprint that came out in a fifth printing (!) in 1970, with the cover image of a woman's fishnet-clad legs dangling out a car window. (The image on display here comes from an eBay auction, and appears to be a UK edition, which carries relevance, as you'll see below.)

My Mom, an inveterate reader to this day, had the Ballantine pb hanging around, and of course the sexy image demanded that 16-year-old Paul pick it up, although my reading diet consisted then almost exclusively of SF. But I also loved humor and satire, and the irreverent tone of the packaging appealed.

I recall enjoying the softcore farce moderately. It concerns the misadventures of a Madison Ave guy, as did so many fictions and films of the time, all the way from Pohl & Kornbluth's THE SPACE MERCHANTS and Shepherd Mead's HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (both 1952) to Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT (1960). Stifled Establishment type cuts lose. How daring! But by 1965, not to mention 1970, this trope had gotten really old and dated. And really, next to the genius of J. P. Donleavy's THE GINGER MAN (1955), all imitations paled.

Consequently, I retain nothing in memory of this unexceptional book except a tingle of adolescent lust when I see the cover. Author Don Calhoun, meanwhile, leaves zero traces on the internet. He arose from hackdom and dissolved back thereunto.

However, in one curious way Calhoun and his book did have a minor impact beyond their limited sphere, a bit of trivia I never knew until I started googling.

A group of UK folkies apparently liked the novel enough to name their band after it! Minus the excalamation mark, anyhow.


And you thought the band "H. P. Lovecraft" was a trivial reference!

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Horrid news of a possible death

I've just had word via John Kessel, who in turn received the news from a coworker of Michael Bishop, that Mike Bishop's son Jamie was among the murder victims at Virginia Tech.

There is no news-service confirmation of this yet. It might not be true. Perhaps Jamie is only among the wounded, or not involved at all.

But at the moment, it does not look good for this wonderful young man.

Please give a prayer for Jamie and all the other victims, as well as for the entire Bishop family.